Tell it Slant

July 21st, 2013

web blinds jun13

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant…” Emily Dickinson

On my walk yesterday, I was thinking about how hard it is to describe things we see every day in a way that makes people feel they’re seeing them for the first time. How hard it is for me to see something as if for the first time. This tiny painting on wood hangs on the frame between two windows in my home office. I see it every day, and I’ve had it for so long, I may have stopped really seeing it at all. Until I was practicing with my iPhone and took this photo. The light slanting across the blinds, the way the color pops out of the white background give it a mystery that usually only exists in an object the first time you fall in love with it. It suggests a story that hasn’t yet been told. I have a great writing mentor/friend who continues to urge me to write about my life, but it seems so boring to me. I think it’s because I’m looking at my life straight on–this happened, then that happened and so on and so on, and none of it leads up to some Big Truth. When I sit down to write my story, I’m expecting to recount the scenes like a court reporter when instead I should try to approach from behind the scenes, to tell them slant. I think that’s why photography fascinates me so much. I’m not interested in keeping a record, like vacation pictures of people posed in front of one monument after another. My favorite photos are the ones I’ve taken when some accidental magic happens that lets me capture or see the object or person in a whole way. And that’s what I long for whether I’m writing or walking out the door in the morning.

One Response to “Tell it Slant”

  1. V-Grrrl says:

    When I started writing the section of my blog called Letters from Home (a memoir based on the letters my mother wrote me when I was in college), I saw it as something only my family would be interested in; a remembrance of my mother and her life and glimpses into my own at that time. Like you, I didn’t think I had a “story to tell” with my life. What’s surprised me is how much the younger generation in my family loves these stories (not just my siblings) and how many people outside my family have been following along on FB and commenting. It’s been an eye-opener. There may come a time I take all I’ve written so far and create something new with it–a book or art project (or both!).

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